Imelda May Covers Blondie and Changes My Life

Courtesy of BBC Radio 2 via YouTube
Courtesy of BBC Radio 2 via YouTube

Sometimes you can be a casual fan of an artist, liking everything you hear, but then one song suddenly hits you and you suddenly can’t stop listening. You’ve transcended the previous relationship you had with them and now all their other songs start revealing things you hadn’t noticed before. But that one song, the one that pushed over – you keep coming back to it, because you must. Because you can’t bear to not hear it. And, really, you’re never not hearing it, anyway. It’s echoing in your head eternally now. This song, this artist, is your new soundtrack. Your new soultrack. And while this can happen from time to time, it’s not something that will happen every day, so when it does, you treasure it and give yourself over to the emotions this song, this artist have now re-awakened in you. Maybe it’s just me this happens to? Who knows. But yesterday, it happened, and I can’t shake this song; a cover, no less, of Blondie’s “Dreaming” by Imelda May, featuring only her voice and a ukulele.

I’ve been listening to Imelda May for a couple of years. I liked her the minute I heard her vintage rockabilly with a jazzy flair. Songs like “Mayhem,” “Johnny Got a Boom Boom,” and her cover of “Tainted Love” have been in my Spotify library with many of her other tracks. So when I noticed her new album, Tribal, had come out recently, I dropped the deluxe version into a playlist to check out and hadn’t thought much about it. Yesterday, as I was listening to it, happily, enjoying every track, it came to the last track and I was suddenly covered in goosebumps. Not only am I a big fan of Blondie, but this has always been one of my favorite songs. This version really drove home several things. One, it’s a beautifully written song. Lyrically, musically, it’s just perfect. Two, Imelda May has enough power to knock you out with a breathless whisper punch to the heart. And, three, I was now an uber fan of Imelda May.

You’d think a ukulele cover would be corny. But this is far from it. I think it may be because of her sigh- and dreamy eye-inducing voice. She takes the familiar driving melody of the original and inspires more longing than restlessness. Its slowed down and quiet verse rises to a restrained “dream, dream, only for a little while” and listful “fade away and radiate,” and then settles back down to an inviting “dreaming its free.” I get chills and I could cry at the sheer beauty of this. Thanks to this song, I’ve now been re-listening to Imelda May’s entire catalog. I can’t imagine why I wasn’t a hardcore fan before. Everything is different now.

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